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Focus on Sustainable Energy & Improved Grid Connections

The Chancellor continued to place the UK at the forefront of the global push to deliver clean energy – a necessary component to deliver a shared natural environment that can be enjoyed and protected for generations to come.

In outlining various investment initiatives, the UK Government is committed to keeping the UK leading the world in the offshore renewables sector by reducing the timescales associated with gaining consent to build and increasing certainty, enabling financial investment decisions that can deliver the UK’s bold Net Zero ambitions.

Unlocking the next stage of investment in the UK’s offshore wind industry is critical for the success of the industry. Our key takeaways from the Autumn Statement include:

  1.  Full Expensing
    By making the full expensing permanent, this should release critical investment into the renewable and infrastructure supply chains, increasing the speed at which key national infrastructure projects can be delivered.
  2. UK Connection Actions Plan & Transmission Acceleration Plan
    Moving from a ‘first come, first served’ model to release grid connection opportunities, the average connection delay will drop from 5 years to 6 months and the significant majority of projects to get their connection date. This ambitious target will enable the UK to release over 100GW from the current queue.Both plans together aim to bring forward £90 billion of investment over the next 10 years strengthening the UK’s position in the global renewables sector.
  3. Removal of the Electricity Generator Levy (EGL) ‘windfall tax’ for new projects
    New renewable energy projects to expand and repower, as well as increasing the operational life of existing generating stations, will now be exempt from the EGL. This is a positive step and will encourage investment in clean UK energy generation in the face of growing international competition.

Focus on UK Planning Regime Reform and Nutrient Mitigation Fund

The Chancellor’s focus on unblocking the planning process by making the UK’s planning regime more efficient and effective will enable critical infrastructure to be build quicker while ensuring the impact of development on the environment is minimised.

Our key takeaways from the Autumn Statement include:

  1. Changes to the NSIP planning regime
    Four key themes were announced to enable the UK to deliver NSIP more efficiently and at scale; speed, certainty, simplicity and delivery. With the average delay currently being 9 months, short term actions to improve decision making, increase investment, reduce bureaucracy and improve project delivery are welcomed.

  2. Improving developer access to environmental data
    By improving the availability and use of environmental data to reduce planning processing times will give developers easier access to data, allowing them to improve decision making and the mitigate their impact on the environment.

  3. Nutrient Mitigation
    Existing nutrient neutrality rules continue to place a burden on housebuilders, preventing the building of 145,000 homes in 74 local authorities. By introducing the Local Nutrient Mitigation Fund, to provide £110 million of funding to support Local Planning Authorities to deliver high quality schemes to offset nutrient pollution, this will unlock planning permissions that are otherwise stalled, having a positive effect on the environment.

Conclusion

At APEM Group, we already focus on ways to maximise efficiencies in the planning process for our clients and look forward to the future benefits these planned changes will bring.

The release of critical investment through Full Expensing, coupled with the potential for earlier grid connection dates, will further help to speed up the delivery of important renewable energy projects.

In summary, APEM Group believe that the continued investment in the UK renewables and infrastructure sectors and an effective planning regime are key to delivering a future where clean energy, clean water and clean infrastructure are crucial to delivering the UK’s net zero goals and protecting and enhancing our shared natural environment for the benefit of all.

To find out how APEM Group can help your organisation please contact: Tom Morley or Lee Williams

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APEM are a global environmental consultancy providing independent advice and guidance to support government and environmental regulatory guidelines.

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